Today, the wise man of the Old Testament speaks about the mystery of wisdom. By wisdom, a person becomes wise and prudent. In this way, he is able to know how to control his or her instincts; acts with caution, becomes loyal in words and actions. With wisdom, a wise person becomes humble and modest. It is readily found by all who sincerely seek her. She takes the initiative and actively seeks those worthy of her. Like Plato in the Republic, who argued that kings should become philosophers, or that philosophers should become kings, or philosopher kings, as they possess a special level of knowledge, the philosopher is required to rule the Republic successfully, in the book of Wisdom, the wise man of the Old Testament addresses rulers, and shows how the search for wisdom leads to an eternal reign. What the ‘kings’ need is neither political influence nor territorial domination, but the authority which comes from God. They are not to depend on any supposed privileges. Rather, they must learn wisdom, for that is the only protection against falling away.
Wisdom is not only for the rulers, it is for every believer or disciple of Christ. Believers are empowered by Wisdom to receive the gift of immortality, the goal of our existence. In our first reading today, the wise man of the Old Testament tells us that wisdom is resplendent and unfailing. She is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her. In the prologue of his gospel account, St. John tells us that Jesus is the eternal logos or Word of God, pre-existent and co-eternal with the Father. As the Eternal Word, the truth, he is the revealer of God, or his action in creation. He enlightens people, often unreceptive and now incarnate in the flesh living among us. He came as light that darkness could not overpower. In like manner, St. Paul tells us that Jesus is the wisdom and power of God, revealed through his cross.
As the wisdom and power of God, Jesus today gives us further warning about the need to have proper and adequate preparation for his coming. In the parable of the ten virgins, he tells us about the five wise virgins, who took their lamps, along with flasks of oil to keep their lamps burning without being extinguished, while waiting for the arrival of the delayed bridegroom. He also speaks about the five foolish bridesmaids, who did not prepare properly. They took their lamps without flasks of oil. When their lamps were going out of oil, the wise ones could not share their oil with the foolish ones because it would not be enough for them if shared. As the foolish ones went in search of oil, the bridegroom arrived and the door was closed on them, and they could not enter. With this, Jesus teaches us to stay awake with good deeds, since we do not know the day or the hour for his return. The lesson for us is that, Christian life is not what we put on, or off at any given time. It is a continuous life to be lived.
In baptism, we received the wisdom and power of God. We entered into his life, death and resurrection. We were clothed with him and became a new creation. In this way, we became like the ten virgins who were called to wait for the return of the bridegroom with lighted lamps. It is by wisdom that we shall become wise, to take our lamps and enough reservation of oil for the long wait of the bridegroom’s return, so that our lights will not extinguish. The oil expected of us to take are the grace of the sacraments, good works, the life of holiness, the gospel principles and everything befitting of the disciple of the kingdom.
In one of his letters, St. Paul helps us to develop the moral life based on both our baptism and the Cross, by telling us that if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. The inference is that, we should live new life in Christ. The old should pass away for us. In this way, as we carry our lamps burning at all times, we should also carry the oil to refill it when it is going out. We should carry with us the word of God and the sacraments of the holy Church for our spiritual nourishment. This is what will lead us into the Kingdom of God at the end. This is why St. Paul speaks to us about the certainty of the Lord’s return, and then, we shall be with him unceasingly.